There is no charge called drunk driving. Instead, each state gives it a particular name. In Maryland, drunk drivers could face one of two charges.
If the police stop you and arrest you, then you need to know which charge you are facing and what the difference is between the two.
- Driving while impaired: You can get this if your blood alcohol content (BAC) is at least 0.07% but less than 0.08%.
- Driving under the influence: You will automatically get this charge if your BAC is 0.08% or over.
The difference seems so minor. What does it matter which one I am charged with?
While there is not that much difference between 0.07% and 0.08%, there is a big difference between the penalties the two charges can bring. A first-ever DWI could mean up to two months in prison and a $500 fine. A second offense could mean up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine. By contrast, a first-time DUI could carry up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine. A second could mean up to two years in jail and a $2,000 fine.
If you are charged with a DUI, your ideal defense outcome would be to have the charges dropped altogether. Yet, if that proves impossible, your best bet might be to seek to have the charge lowered to a DWI.
Clearly, this will be much easier if you tested close to the 0.08% DWI BAC limit rather than being miles over it. While breath testing machines are quite accurate, many factors could cause them to read 0.01% or more too high. Getting legal help to illustrate them could help you escape more severe charges